Goals, controversy, penalties, reckless challenges. The Merseyside derby can often have it all, and on one particular occasion it did.
Not that Mark Clattenburg enjoyed it.
It is now almost 15 years since the referee found himself in the centre of the action at Goodison Park, where Everton and Liverpool played out a feisty Saturday lunchtime encounter that might well be replicated this weekend, although it would have to go some to match this drama.
Because what unfolded on that sunny October day has since passed into folklore, and is often referenced as the most eventful fixture between the pair in Premier League history.
Here’s what unfolded.
As usual, it was a derby with plenty on the line.
After two Champions League final appearances in three years, Liverpool hadn’t started the 2007-08 campaign all that well, with title challenge ambitions strangled and a defeat to Marseille and 2-2 draw at home to Tottenham checking progress prior to their short visit to Goodison, where they had been beaten 3-0 the previous season.
With Xabi Alonso injured, Rafael Benitez’s side just looked to be lacking a bit of spark in midfield, where so much onus was again being placed on Steven Gerrard ahead of a fixture he feels more than anyone else.
As for Everton, qualifying for the Champions League was already looking a little way away after four defeats in their first nine Premier League games, but they had already reached the group stages of that season’s UEFA Cup earlier in the month.
David Moyes’ side – who would finish fifth this season – were feeling good about themselves, and were ready to tear into their neighbours.
The first half
As well as Alonso, Liverpool were also without Fernando Torres for this one, and an attack of Dirk Kuyt and Andriy Voronin was looking somewhat blunt in the opening stages.
Voronin missed a headed chance, and after Everton grew into the game and came close twice through Victor Anichebe, they took the lead in bizarre fashion when Alan Stubbs launched a half-cleared corner back into the Liverpool box, and the previously unflappable Sami Hyypia volleyed it into his own net to spark blue delirium.
Everton, who had benefitted from a freak goal in the previous season’s fixture when Pepe Reina presented the ball onto the head of Andy Johnson, couldn’t believe their luck, and they went in ahead at the break.
Then Clattenburg took over.
The second half.
Nine minutes into the second period Gerrard was in full on Roy of the Rovers mould, and when drove at the Everton defence from a quick break he was bundled to the ground by Tony Hibbert when through on goal.
Gerrard had managed to make sure that he was in the penalty area when the full contact was made, and after Clattenburg gave a penalty he delayed a decision on what to do with the Everton defender. It was as Gerrard protested that the referee decided to give Hibbert his marching orders – something the Everton fans didn’t like – and Kuyt fired home the spot kick.
It was all-action now.
Chances came and went at both ends, and a chaotic game became even wilder when Kuyt lunged through the air at Phil Neville, with whom he didn’t make contact due to the Everton man’s jump. Clattenburg only booked him when he should have sent him off.
Gerrard was leading Liverpool’s assault on getting a winner against the 10 men, but Benitez felt that his captain was being a little too hot-headed, and withdrew him for the 20-year-old Lucas Leiva, giving the Brazilian a Premier League debut.
In stoppage-time that almost became a dream bow, but Lucas’ shot was handled by Neville on the line, the Everton man was sent off and Kuyt converted a penalty to send the away end wild.
Incredibly, there was still time for Clattenburg to wave away penalty appeals from the nine men of Everton up the other end when Jamie Carragher wrestled Joleon Lescott to the ground, with the Liverpool defender getting away with one.
It was a chaotic finish.
A livid Moyes hit out at Clattenburg’s display, particularly the decision not to give his side a penalty for the Carragher-Lescott incident.
“Decisions happen, that’s football,” he said. “But in the last seconds there’s the chance for it to be corrected and it would’ve been a result we deserved.
“We deserved that penalty and if the other penalties were more blatant than that, then I am in the wrong game.
“I seem to see football differently. If the ref doesn’t see that you ask why.”
Benitez wasn’t having it though, with his tongue somewhat in his cheek during his reply.
“People talk about a penalty they could have had,” he said. “But last season we lost here 3-0, two of their goals were fouls and nobody complained then.
“I always feel that in England, players should not be rewarded with penalties for diving.
“I felt both penalty decisions were right. And I also agree with the yellow card for Kuyt and not a red.”
As for Clattenburg, his card became marked.
Although it has never been fully revealed why, with security reasons suspected, the Tyne & Wear official wouldn’t referee at Goodison Park again for over six years.
“I was out of my depth,” Clattenburg told Carragher’s Greatest Games podcast last year.
“I don’t know why I was refereeing it. I’d just done the Manchester derby and the London derby, so it was my third derby in three or four weeks.
“I had underestimated it – the working-class derby. The other two were different derbies, this one was brutal.
“Some derbies are different in certain stadiums. Sunderland-Newcastle is more intense at Sunderland and Everton-Liverpool is more intense at Goodison. There was always more intensity.
“I remember the first half I did okay, but in the second half I had an absolute nightmare. I listened to my assistant referee for the Dirk Kuyt challenge, which when you look back was a stonewall red.”
Elaborating on the failure to punish Carragher in stoppage time, he added: “Look at what you did with Lescott – you killed us! I wasn’t allowed to referee Everton for seven [six] years because of you!”
“When I was a young referee in the Premier League, I didn’t understand balance. If I’d seen it – and I still don’t know why I didn’t see it to this day – the easiest decision was to blow for a penalty.
“Why? I would have come out the game with a little bit less criticism. Yes, Everton had two players red-carded and I awarded Liverpool two penalties, but had I given Everton a penalty and the chance to make it 2-2, no Liverpool fan could have criticised me.
“But everything went against Everton. You don’t sometimes see it when you are in the game. I could have given the penalty and come out with less criticism and then refereed Everton over the next seven years, which I failed to do.”
Although he did referee Everton again just over four years later in a draw at Aston Villa, he wouldn’t return to Goodison until December 2013 and a 2-1 home win over Southampton.
“It was a nightmare going back because of the verbals I took,” he added.
“I went back and refereed some incredible games, they beat Man City 4-0 and beat Man United. But I accept I am always going to be hated by Everton.”